Bold Tech Vision for Western Kenya

Revision of that submitted by tanderson on Fri, 12/12/2008 - 8:00pm.

Harvard Professor plans innovative tech Institute in Kenya. 4 week tech volunteer trip planned. International development expert develops model media lab for community of 60,000 people in Western Kenya where he was born. WCE is looking for templates for design and implementation of a model multi-media center. $4,712 donated during the past month.

Calestous Juma is Professor of the Practice of International Development and the Director of the Science, Technology and Innovation Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. He volunteers as a member of the International Advisory Council of World Computer Exchange (WCE).

Hear BBC about this project
(middle third of their 23 December Digital Planet show)

Recently, Professor Juma took the lead with WCE to help get more schools in the Western Province of Kenya connected to the Internet. He is helping to plan a shipment of 200 donated used computers from WCE to connect seven high schools in Port Victoria in Bunyala District where he was born and raised. These schools have about 4,000 students. The community is a poor fishing community with 60,000 people who will also be invited to use this new tech resource. Dr. Juma has asked WCE to include a copy of the 11-million page eGranary Digital Library that was developed by the University of Iowa.

Dr. Juma said, "I enjoy working with WCE. Together, we are planning to bring a team of volunteers from the U.S. and other countries to help our local volunteers in Kenya redevelop the John Osogo secondary school into a technology resource for students in nearby schools. - and for the community. The John Osogo school is especially important to me because I studied there as a child, long before continuing my education in Britain and long before I started teaching at Harvard and other universities. I was taught there by a Peace Corps Volunteer."

The John Osogo school will serve as the focal point of this WCE shipment as well as a focal point for One Laptop per Child on whose foundation board Dr. Juma serves. In addition, WCE and the school will help to distribute other educational technologies, scientific equipment and books. In addition to the boys' school, a Multimedia Centre will also be established at the Namenya Girls High School. The school is adjascent to the local hospital and plans are underway to explore how to leverage the school curriculum to promote public health education in the community.

The average annual income in Kenya is $1,700 and about 7% of the people are currently using the Internet.

Professor Juma is now contacting his friends and colleagues to explore if they might be willing to join him in financially Sponsoring part of the $22,330 for content materials, sourcing the computers and the logistical and shipping costs needed to make this happen. Dr. Juma said, "I hope they will help to develop “my” Victoria Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation. As part of this, the seven participating schools will match each donation with funds raised from parents, schools, local government, Rotary Clubs and local companies." Their match is a key ingredient in showing the priority they place on their children receiving these computers and ensuring a strong sense of local ownership.

John Ouko, the principal of the John Osogo school said, "The main objective here is to build a strong technological network as the basis for community development in Bunyala District. The long-term vision is for this to evolve into a college and a university offering experiential education. The first project for the students will be computer programming.

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